Field Trip to Incredible India……..

Marcello spoke about China visit yesterday; I am on the team going to India for the International field trip. Some time ago, we were given the options to choose a preferred field trip destination-China or India and I think everyone got their first choice. I haven’t been to either of the places so any would have been fine.  

Incredible India .With a population of over 1 billion, India is a pool of diversity-it  peoples ,cultures , languages and of course the big entrepreneurial drive of its people .We are visiting companies in manufacturing ,IT and banking sector. During our ten days there, we will travel between Bangalore, Pune and then finally to Mumbai. 

 I was in the team for Banking and we have done some extensive research on the landscape in India under which these businesses are thriving. With a significant proportion of India’s population living in the rural areas-how is the banking sector tailoring products and developing distribution channels for this market segment? Some Indian banks riding on the successes at home have even moved on to go international and set up in the West. Interesting stuff, particularly for me, as someone coming from a developing country (I am Zimbabwean and I worked in the banking sector at home before moving abroad). 

This promises to be an exciting trip from both an academic and cultural perspective. More news when we return in July.

TABD-making history!

We had the golden opportunity to host the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue at esmt. The members were the movers and shapers in the world of healthcare and politics. All the big pharma CEOs, IT industry lords and politicians were to be found in the building. MBA students were simply instructed to stay on our floor and out of sight!

As a follower of global events and an interested party in the HIV/Aids pandemic killing millions aorund the world I felt compelled to do something to remind the vip’s!

Concerned about being jailed I enquired from the college whether I would be breaking college statutes or polizei laws by mounting a picket line at the entrance to the building-just in case I needed to be bailed :-).The good professor advised me to write a letter instead mainly because he could give no guarantees!

Getting supporting signatures was a challenge as some felt  the effect would be negligible. Some viewed participation in anything against the authorities as criminal. I, for one have experience dealing with fear. At some point people will show their true colours. It was surprising that some feared more for the college’s reputation than good ol’ prof did!

At the end of the conference, I was overjoyed when an announcement was made in the US by Bill Clinton that a deal had been secured to allow two Indian pharma companies to produce and distribute cheaper drugs. The commitment had been here made in Berlin prior to the announcement. We had all played a part.

Fly fly away

Yesterday we had to be up in the wee hours of the morning to get on the train to
Hamburg for a corporate visit to EADS. Yes that’s right the home of AIRBUS and the famous A380.It is all indeed larger than life. We first had a presentation of the company strategy and its various businesses then after lunch we had one of the test pilots take us on the tour round the facility for the A320 plane assembly .It was just awesome. Some robots working away here and there;  then some tasks too intricate to leave to robots alone which require human intervention. Being a conservative chartered accountant, I never thought I would find myself considering a high technology career, but this stuff is pretty exciting and I was attracted. After all ,they do say you can be anything you want to be,so why not.


 I mean, you see some of this on documentaries on TV but nothing compares to the experience of actually standing in the huge plant and seeing the fuselage(outer interior shell of plan)Did you know the fuselage is only 3mm thick? . It is then that you realise the marvels of modern science. All in all a very exciting day, pity we didn’t get to test drive the A380.

Alphas vs Betas

Imagine for a second you are a trader and the only thing you enjoy in life is precisely that: exchanging items to meet your own agenda. But then, you are sent into a foreign culture, where hugs and questions about your family seem to be the only things other people care about. How would you feel in such a situation? Wouldn’t you just like to ask these people: what’s the purpose of your life? How come you are “wasting your time” caring about other people, when you could become millionaire?

Today we had a very interesting excercise in class, where alphas and betas, two completely different cultures, met each other and tried to decode what the other culture was about. The excercise was not only exciting, but it also taught us something we tend to underestimate about the global world we live in: there are unspoken rules in any culture, and unless we as foreigners manage to decode them, it will be difficult for us to be properly understood as well. 

Group work: Joined at the hip?

Among the distinguishing features of any MBA program are the interactive group activities, formal and informal, taking place throughout the course. The MBA program provides opportunity for introspection and for evaluation of group dynamics in order to maximise the individual input to the collective experience. The fundamental lesson lies in the appreciation of each member as a source of skill, and experience to be tapped for the group’s benefit. Group work is essentially about trust and respect.

All of us are far more capable than we imagine ourselves to be, hence the MBA program harnesses and aligns those abstract abilities. To be an effective member of a group, it is crucial to identify an area where one adds value through skill, knowledge or insight. Relevant past experience can be leveraged for the benefit of the group. The MBA program encourages participants to view the business environment from a broader perspective because the graduate is expected to be an all-rounder.

In medical school one of my professors remarked that to become a doctor one had to be taught to think in a particular way, hence the endless repetition until it became second nature, an observation which certainly applies to other professions as well. The MBA program stimulates a dynamism characteristic of the modern business landscape wherein the goal is not merely surviving until the next challenge but thriving under all circumstances.

As we begin our third module, it is clear we have become more effective and efficient, and remain cognisant of there being no room free-loaders. Each one of us has contributed to the tasks at hand even if only by making the necessary noises to remind others you are still in the room, much akin to the workplace. I have had the opportunity to get to know and understand classmates and also to reflect on my own thoughts and behaviours. The experience has enabled me to be more open and expressive, rather than remaining a bastion of self-control under any circumstance, a common trait in my field of work. The group rotations for each module have been particularly suited for the small class at ESMT.

I often reminisce about my first group which had character, passion, and fire with the sole trade-off being efficiency! I cannot recall the number of hours that flew by whilst we tussled, debated, and deliberated but still managed to complete tasks five minutes before they were due. The exhilaration and adrenaline has certainly been hard to reproduce. We have now come a long way since, are wiser, more understanding, and accommodating. Hurrah!